|Omega-3 fatty acids are found in most seafood and algae. They are called essential fatty acids since the body cannot synthesize them and therefore need to be consumed through one’s diet.
Omega-3 is especially important during pregnancy as it plays a vital role in the developing brain and retina of the fetus. Studies have also shown that Omega-3 fatty acids could help determine the length of gestation and prevent prenatal depression. When omega-3 fatty acids are consumed in adequate amounts throughout pregnancy, the fetus gets a healthy dose and therefore pregnancy outcomes improve.
To make sure the fetus is correctly supplied with the adequate amount of Omega-3, doctors recommend that pregnant women consume at least 200 mg of DHA (a key component of omega-3) every day. This can easily be achieved with 1 to 2 servings of seafood every week. Despite the organic mercury and harmful toxins found in seafood, this recommended amount won’t be harmful to the fetus.
Unfortunately, seafood is not always available or a possibility for all pregnant women. For this reason, alternate sources of DHA are available. These supplements include fish oil capsules or vegan options, providing a range or 150–1200 mg/d of DHA. Many prenatal vitamins contain up to 200 to 300 mg of DHA, enough to cover the weekly requirement. So be sure to talk to your doctor about your prenatal vitamins and don’t be afraid to eat seafood once or twice a week. Just make sure they are fresh and are thoroughly cooked.